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Indian Cultural Books for Kids: My Top Picks

By June 06, 2017 , , , , , ,

Do you ever feel like the more globalized we become in our world, the more distant we seem to get from our roots and culture? Growing up in Thailand, I have fond memories of reading Amar Chitra Katha (tales of Indian mythology) and listening with rapt attention to the epic stories of the Ramayan and Mahabharat as told by my mother. Our cultural stories, whether they were gleaned off books or recited verbally, were the key that transported me to another world and time. I may not have realized it at that age but these stories and mythologies cultivated in me an awareness and an appreciation of for rich cultural values, religion, and heritage.

Fast forward decades later...Living in Singapore now, I try to make a conscious effort to keep my own son in touch with his Indian language, culture and heritage. Among the many ways I do so is through the power and magic of books. I've acquired a mini-collection of storybooks by Indian authors who are attempting to bring the same stories that we grew up with in a fun, vibrant, and more relatable way for younger children. Below are some of my top picks of Indian cultural storybooks for kids (age range 3+).

1. Meet My Hindu Gods by Reena Puri and Mital Telhan: This book is among my faves! It serves as a great introductory book to the Hindu gods for the little ones (toddlers/preschoolers). I have to commend the book for its adorable illustrations of Hindu gods and its simplistic yet meaningful description of what each god represents. Krishna, Ganesh, Hanuman, Saraswati, Ram & Sita... they're all there! Do check out desibabiesonline.com to learn more about how to get the book along with other fun stuff, such as My First Indian Coloring Book (I have that too!). For all our Singapore readers and friends: The authors Reena and Mital were kind enough to offer a heavy discount shipping rate to Singapore so please do contact me if you're interested! 

2. Hurray for Diwali by Anita Raina Thapan: My 3.5 year old has made me read this book so many times that he can almost recite the book by heart. The book gives me nostalgia of my own childhood memories of Diwali, capturing the excitement of lighting firecrackers and receiving sweets and gifts on this special festival. At the same time, the book reminds us of the importance of family and of sharing & giving on this occasion. I would say this book is appropriate for ages 3 and up.

3. Ganesha's Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes: Bright, eye-catching colors leap off the page in this zany book that relates the story of how Ganesha broke his tusk and eventually came to write the epic story of the Mahabharat. The book isn't entirely based on the original mythology as the authors lend their own twist to the story. Funny and entertaining for sure! This book is suitable for preschoolers up to those in grade 3.

4. Little Hanuman by Anita Raina Thapan: Another book by the same author as Hurray for Diwali, this one retells the story of little Hanuman. As the son of the Wind God Vayu, he used his might and powers for playful and naughty tricks as a child (remember the story about how he ate the sun thinking it was a juicy mango?). My son thoroughly enjoys listening to the funny antics of little Hanuman described in the book. Ultimately, the book connects the story back to how little Hanuman eventually grew up to become the greatest devotee of Ram. Appropriate for ages 3 and up.

5. Amma Tell Me series by Bhakti Mathur: The author decided to create this book series when she struggled to find books on Hindu mythology and festivals for her own children. While I only have one of the books from the series (on Hanuman), there are several more on the different Hindu festivals and Hindu gods. The book is suitable for children ages 3-9.

What are your favorite Indian storybooks for your children? Please do share, I would love to know!

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